Can the forest paint itself? – An ‘enworlded’ practioner

We are always perceive by things around us (William Beckett)

A phenomenology of painting. Can the forest paint itself? This was quite a hard subject to grasp. After the lecture is finished, I made time to read the weekly slides/presentation twice to understand what it’s trying to inform me. My habit in processing information is quicker when I use or presented with example. So, when I was reading the slides, I try to capture word(s) that sort of describe the intention of the lecture. The words I got are process of creativity.

The example presented by my tutor was Andre Marchand’s ‘Forest’ Painting, 1942, Oil on Canvas.

Andre Marchand, 'Forest, 1942, Oil on canvas. Source: date 24/02/2014

Andre Marchand, ‘Forest, 1942, Oil on canvas. Source: date 24/02/2014

In a forest, I have felt many times over that it was not I who looked at the forest. Some days I felt that the trees were looking at me, were speaking to me …. I was there, listening …. I think that the painter must be penetrated by the universe and not want to penetrate it. . . . I expect to be inwardly submerged, buried. Perhaps I paint to break out (Andre Marchand, cited in Merleau-Ponty, 1964, p. 129).

His activity reminds me of one of important elements in illustration process which is observation. As an illustrator, I’m train to observe the environment surround me, whenever, where ever. This is to train all my senses in capturing the moment, what is front of me and what it’s trying to tell me. The observation would be materialised through recording/documenting or sketching the object or moment, the sound, the smell, the atmosphere, the materials  and the environment as a whole.

Existential of mind and perception

We speak of “inspiration,” and the word should be taken literally. There really is inspiration and expiration of Being, respiration in Being, action and passion so slightly discernible that it becomes impossible to distinguish between who sees and who is seen, who paints and what is painted. The painter’s vision is an ongoing birth (Merleau- Ponty, 1964, p. 129)

I use inspiration to motivate me, to take and explore ideas and design from in order to make new artwork that contain my own perception.

We are not separate from the world

Flesh of the body extends into the flesh of the world. Body is a thing amongst things. Things are an annex of prolongation of itself. It sees itself seeing. It touches itself touching (p.124-125).

An ‘Ecology’ of mind

The mental world – the mind – the world of information processing is not limited by the skin (Bateson, 1973, p.429).

I agree with this statement because I think that the way we give response through our movement, actions, language, expression or feeling and e.t.c have to go through some kind of process of digesting information using all our senses and perception. I also think that the response is not the end result because somehow the process is repeated back to start again and again.

my illustration of information process cycle

my illustration of information process cycle


Not the idea of ‘form’ but ‘form-giving’

Extensions in the air and space and within soil are interdependent, just as in developed organisms the functions of nutrition and respiration are interdependent. A broader nutritional base may give rise to large respiratory organs, while greater breathing-space may enlarge the nutritional organs (mutuality, reciprocity). (Klee, 1964, p. 31)

Giving form –> process of creativity (movements, action, life) –> ‘Form’ (form is not the end result but rather as a genesis, growth, essence). All things are connected with process of creativity like materials to paint, the paper, the pencils and e.t.c.

Movement is the true generator of form (Klee, 1964, p.29). Creativity are both from internal and external of the artist. Lines and drawings are themselves not so much ‘drawn’ (as a copy of the world) but ‘grown’ – through form-giving processes that extend from the body of the artists into the ‘nourishing’ forces of the environment. ‘fixed’ through movement and gesture.

Painting/drawing is a process of ‘capturing’ forces. The task of painting is defined as the attempt to render visible forces 9and energies) that are not themselves visible (Deleuze, 2003, p.56). He also said that matter has energies or ‘force-fields’.

Experiment conducted by Leonardo da Vinci to see how shadow were made from lights that hits the face. Lights can change the shadow because of obstruction (e.g. covered by another object).


Melting together of environment and the artist expression.

[Painting] gives visible existence to what profane vision believes to be invisible […]. This voracious vision, reaching beyond the “visual givens,” opens upon a texture of Being of which the discrete sensorial messages are only the punctuations or the caesurae. The eye lives in this texture as a man in his house (Merleau-Ponty, 1964, p. 127)

In regard with illustration, we are suggested to make the ‘moody’ to feel more ‘moody’. To dramatise a movement, matter, life by depicting through gesture within the narrative or painting/drawing.



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